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[slightly half-assed] Preview of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge - "For ****'s sake, can we just win this thing?"

The Challenge usually leaves Big Ten fans shell shocked and talking to themselves.

Like this:

It was one thing when they lost the first five. "At least it's in single digits". Then it got to 0-10. Yeah.

Let's review. I'll offer the disclaimer that I'm fairly new to this "basketball" thing.

Schedule:

Game #1:

Monday, 11/30, 7:00PM: Penn State @ Virginia (ESPN2)

Ehh. Predicted winner: Virginia

Game #2:

Tuesday, 12/1, 7:00PM: Wake Forest @ Purdue (ESPN)

Wake loses their leading scorers from last year (Jeff Teague and James Johnson), but the Deacons return budding talented (but developing) sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu. Chas MacFarland gives Wake good size up front, but the Deacons are still young. Meanwhile, Purdue reloads for the third year in a row with JaJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel, Etwaun Moore and Chris Kramer all returning. The Boilermakers have the edge in depth and experience. Predicted winner: Purdue

Game #3:

Tuesday, 12/1, 7:00PM: Northwestern @ N.C. State (ESPNU)

Northwestern is supposed to be good. Some experts have them in the tournament. Did I mention that Kevin Coble is injured and out for the year? The only preview of N.C. State I could find was a Bleacher Report article. Predicted winner: N.C. State

Game #4:

Tuesday, 12/1, 7:30PM: Maryland @ Indiana (ESPN2)

So what does Indiana do when they have their worst season ever? Only sign a great recruiting class. Maryland still has that trash talking Venezuelan guard and some other guys (Gary Williams is finally recruiting to the standard UM fans want), so I guess they can't be too bad. Still, I'll be stupid and go with my hunch. Predicted winner: Indiana

Game #5:

Tuesday, 12/1, 9:00PM: Michigan State @ North Carolina (ESPN)

North Carolina loses Lawson, Hansbrough, Ellington, and Green. Only Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard return. Along with (SHOCK!) a great recruiting class. Michigan State, on paper at least, is more experienced and maybe more talented than UNC, but the Heels are solid on their front line. I'm really not sure what to expect, but UNC is young, and Izzo will get his revenge. Predicted winner: Michigan State

Game #6:

Tuesday, 12/1, 9:30PM: Virginia Tech @ Iowa (ESPN2)

This does not require a preview. I watched both of Iowa's first two games (partly due to boredom, partly due to loving the sarcastic humor in the open threads on BHGP), and it is quite possible that Kirk Ferentz's football team will win more games than Todd Lickliter's basketball team. Predicted winner: Virginia Tech

Game #7:

Wednesday, 12/2, 7:15PM: Illinois @ Clemson (ESPN)

Illini fans are excited because they finally, finally!, signed Mr. Illinois Basketball. This time, it's swingman Brandon Paul. Illinois is a mixed team, with experience on the front line, but young (talented) players at the guard spots. Good depth as well. Maybe a middle Big Ten team (if the conference is as good as predicted), but they should be in the NCAAs. Dick Vitale says both Illinois and Clemson will surprise people. I don't feel like writing about Clemson, so go here if you care. Predicted winner: Clemson

Game #8:

Wednesday, 12/2, 7:15PM: Minnesota @ Miami (ESPNU)

Minnesota returns most of their guys. Miami rode outside shooter Jack McClinton and another guy (can't recall his name) to the tourneys, and now they're very, very young. I think Minnesota may surprise some people this year. Predicted winner: Minnesota

Game #9:

Wednesday, 12/2, 7:30PM: Boston College @ Michigan (ESPN2)

After Michigan wins, go to MGOBLOG and watch as some guy writes a "Is Michigan a basketball school?" diary and gets "negbombed" [to have his "points total" lowered by so much that he can't post diaries] by other members into submission. Seriously, though, it is funny to watch them ignore their football team with talk of the greatness of John Beilein. Not that I can blame them, I guess. Predicted winner: Michigan

Game #10:

Wednesday, 12/2, 9:15PM: Duke @ Wisconsin (ESPN)

Wisconsin loses key players, doesn't replace them with blue chippers. Duke loses key players, replaces them with blue chippers and then some. Ho hum. Predicted winner: Duke

Game #11:

Wednesday, 12/2, 9:30PM: Florida State @ Ohio State (ESPN2)

Florida State was decent last year, but Toney Douglas, who led all other scorers by more than 10 PPG, is gone. I actually had a hard time finding anything about FSU, so go here (yes, that place) for more. Ohio State is interesting in that they have no freshman (to make room for more Matta one-and-dones blue chippers). Evan Turner is now trying to go all Magic Johnson as the starting PG. Outside threat Jon Diebler starts at 2-guard, David Lighty starts at SF. The talented Dallas Lauderdale may be out with a foot injury (I'm really not sure), leaving "Zisis Sarikopoulous" to start at center (sadly, he'll probably be better than most Penn State Europeans). They tried him against UNC and he sucked. Ohio State has good depth and experience, and Matta may be able to choose a lot of playing styles. I can't believe I spent this much time on Ohio State. Predicted winner: Ohio State

Final prediction: 6-5 Big Ten.

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